It happens to most if not all of us. Something extremely emotional happens to us and we're just hysterical. Logic doesn't work. You contemplate punching a wall because that will help . . . somehow. Perhaps you just had your big idea stolen at work, your partner is trying to console you but it only hurts you more, and you are screaming, crying, and about to burn your house down. Either way, you are manic and your voice carries that tone. I have been told that all caps and multiple exclamation point is bad style so "I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!!!" is pretty much out. So what would best convey that kind of over the edge, spinning your wheels, shrieking kind of hysteric yelling? Would I just explain it after the dialog? For example:

"Honey what's wrong?" asked unassuming husband of wife who was obviously freaking the f- out. "I don't know what to do," said wife in a way matching her frantic pacing of the house tearing her hair out because of reasons previously stated.


9 Answers 9


All caps can sometimes be acceptable if they're used very sparingly (think once or twice in a book), but yes, it tends to be a sign of bad writing. Extremes of emotion can usually be conveyed through action.

He swept the pictures from the shelf, sending them smashing to the floor. "Who the hell do you think you are?" he shouted. "Answer me!" His fist punched through the drywall.

Very loud screaming is better described than shown through ever-increasing font sizes.

Her words were shrill and deafening. "Get out!"

This gives you much more control over the impressions you create in the reader's mind. You can describe the tone as hysterical, angry, manic, panicked, an indignant roar, a savage scream... and a million other variations that would be impossible to express merely by using capital letters.


Be a perseverent observer. Make a note of things people do during such emotional aggravation. To be exact, the stuff they do subconsciously. Clenching of fists, eyebrows extending, short fast breaths. Show the anger or pain flowing out of the characters. I am not going to give you an example, it'd be too easy. Some people stutter when they are overwhelmed. Some wave hands frantically. Some sweat. Some use "some" words repeatedly, when their mind is unstable.

Build the tension with words. Show the reader how mad/angry/aggravated he is by describing his actions(all in narratives). Blow it up with a single line of dialogue. Use simple yet strong words for the blow. When people are mad its highly unlikely to bring out the best of their vocabulary.

Following the description after the dialogue often misses the effect you seek. Make the reader "feel" that its gonna blow up.


What you people are proposing doesn't work. For example, if my character is hysterical cos his wife been cheating on him and he goes off on a tirade and then exclaims: "...with the cook! THE COOK!!!" None of your convoluted words will convey his emotion as dynamically as the classic shouting CAPS. "THE COOK!" I tell ya.

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    For as long as it's used sparingly, yes, I agree. Dec 11, 2017 at 16:54
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    That's what she said. Who? My Immortal. Oh. I don't think it's a good idea to use all caps. You can, for instance, use the "reaction" of the surroundings to convey how mad your character is. The main objective is to enable your reader to recreate the feeling of the scene. Dec 13, 2017 at 17:54
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    All caps may be used sparingly, but multiple exclamation marks outside of the context of comics is downright unpublishable. I would not recommend this. Feb 26, 2020 at 9:15

In my opinion, italics work much better than ALL CAPS. They allow for more descriptive words after the dialogue as well. For example:

"Get away from me!" He yelled, his broad voice deafening.

As opposed to:

"GET AWAY FROM ME!" He yelled.

Using CAPS just seems a bit childish in my opinion.


I would go into more detail about her physical gestures and actions before I have her respond. That is how you show the reader her emotional state. It may be good to have the husband ask again and try to touch her or hug her with her pulling away and shouting.

It's the small touches that add emotion to a story rather than the big sweeping paragraphs and dialogue. Dialogue is there to emphasize the actions. Remember, people are seeing this in their heads as they are reading. Add some details so the picture is clear and then the reader will understand the scene perfectly.


Personally, I like to have the character scream loudly and hysterically, as you were saying you are trying to portray, before quickly quieting down. This strong contrast may help get how loud the scream was across.

Azylo clenched her fists by her sides. Her entire body heaved as long sobs poured out of her mouth and she now used one hand to grab onto her shirt. She heaved forward once more and cried out hysterically, “don’t abandon me!”
She continued to shake profusely, her eyes were blurry and heat consumed her. She felt completely helpless. But her voice quieted now, to just a whisper between heavy breathes and hot tears, “Scarlet, please don’t leave me.” It was helpless, she was already long gone.


I heard a shrill, deafening shriek. I looked around, only to find that it was coming from me.

Use italics, and instead of using "AHHHHHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!", try using descriptive words, and repeating the same word, but as synonyms:

"shrill, deafening shriek"

Try to avoid all caps or multiple punctuation marks.


It may not be my place to share an opinion being only in high school but- I'd like to share my opinion or if you'd call it, 'suggestions'. When I write a hysterical dialogue using caps it doesn't always bring out the full picture. Yes, you can use it with multiple exclamation marks, and yes, you can make the whole speech caps, however, it doesn't portray the character's anger, the character's fury. I like to use slanted text or just speech without caps. Yet, you can bubble up much more by expressing them beforehand or after the dialogue.

From experience, you could use it (all caps) once or twice when nothing else surfaces but, there is a much more creative aspect to writing. Using caps isn't all that bad but when you continuously use them, it simply doesn't show what you are capable of. However, repeated caps in a paragraph don't look well presented, it looks too unclean and not neat. It also conveys a sign of bad writing too. Writing is where you build a picture- just like a printer, you print it out in stages, bit by bit.

You can express their emotions and feeling through violent adjectives or use violent verbs to demonstrate their fierce actions. To express their tiredness and their feeling of being hopeless you could use different hand gestures and breathing patterns. You could paint their sensitivity, their vulnerability, and their feeling of regret/guilt when their anger dissipates through a lack of eye contact or the sudden heated tears. You can use punctuation to indicate their tone of voice, or you could use it to break up the blocky feeling of continued long sentences.

Be creative! Use punctuation to your advantage, stir up the tension, make the sentences short and snappy, and vary the lengths. Make it seem as though time has slowed down or make it as though time is sprinting away. Make it your argument. Make it in your style. Giving you an example won't spring up our imagination, writing is something everyone uses to express their feelings and emotions, which is why you can make up your own! Imagining your own scenario means printing it on paper with words, drawing the character onto paper in your way...

You could create an atmosphere, a heated oven where it takes place, make the air heavy, make it feel like oxygen is running away with every word. Make it so that it's between them- or the group. Make your eye point focus on their little things. Make it rotate around them.

Most importantly, it should seem realistic. Even in a fantasy setting where whales glide in the sky, we are all human, even the little aliens are- in a way, human. Our bitterness and frustration all flow the same. Your character may have large furious eyes, they may sweat, they may carry fast breaths, wildly wave their hands, clench their jaw, clench and unclench their fists. Being observant may help with how you draw your character's anger!


Expressing anger through writing is best done when you yourself are angry. The most quality compositions I've ever created were due to my rage and desire to express myself. You can do this by looking at videos where an innocent person was bullied, especially an old person or a homeless person (this personally builds up my anger) and you will be shocked at how creatively expressive you are. When it comes to the writing its self, it's extremely hard to express the tone of a yell only by putting in quotes "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" so descriptive words can be very useful. Always try and find synonyms for your words (check the exact definitions of the synonyms so that you use them in a proper context). There are more purified yet complex words that can replace simpler dull words. Instead of "far" you may use "distant" instead of "mad" you may use "enraged" instead of "crazy" you may use "psychotic" and etc.

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